Huge progress being made on local canal restoration

All pictures an captions from Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust press release.

Tom Reid from the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust has been in touch to let us know about the progress they’re making in opening up the former canal towpath as a walking route between Barracks Lane and Summerhill, aided by corporate volunteers.

If you’re unaware of the local canal restoration that’s steadily progressing this excellent blog post by Christine Howles explains more about it. The trust run regular work parties and all are very much welcome, whether you’ve a specialist skill or not!

At the moment, the volunteers are not only beavering away on the route of the lost line between Barracks Lane, Ogley Hay and The Boat restaurant, on the Lichfield Road at Summerhill, but also at several sites, including Borrowcop on the A51 at Lichfield, and other places along the route of the lost line.

To find out more, please pop along to the Lichfield and Hateherton Canal Restoration Trust website here.

Tom Reid wrote:

Corporate Volunteers Boost Lichfield Canal

Volunteers from companies as diverse as BT, Amey, E.ON and Jaguar Land Rover have been helping Lichfield’s Canal Trust to

make great strides in restoring a waterway that was abandoned in the 1950s.

In recent months canal walls creating a channel leading up to the M6 Toll aqueduct have been taking shape and a great start has been made on the kilometre-long Summerhill section of the Heritage Towpath Trail from the Oddfellows in the Boat Inn to the M6 Toll aqueduct.

Such has been the scale of progress that Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s Engineering Director Peter Buck is planning for the day when the wheelchair-friendly Towpath Trail will be open to the public from the Boat Inn on Walsall Road to Brownhills and boat trips will run from the Boat to the aqueduct.

The purchase of the Summerhills land was made possible by a Social Investment Business Community Award less than two years ago.

Peter said: “Before we got this piece of land we never had access to the aqueduct.

“We’ve restored  the canal culvert at Cranebrook  incorporating an access road so we can actually get cranes and construction equipment up to the M6Toll aqueduct so that we can build the guillotine lock, which will be one of the deepest, if not the deepest, in the country.

 “The intention is to move our cabins early next year onto a hard-standing area by the aqueduct and that will be the construction area for the new lock and pumping station.”

Paying tribute to the volunteers, Peter said: “We’ve had fabulous cooperation from the visiting corporate groups and it’s cascading in.

“Many of the corporate volunteers come from different departments from the same organization, but they’re all saying ‘can we come?’

 “We had 40 volunteers on one day and the smallest group was three but they all did a fabulous job.”

A 21-strong team of volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group, part of the Inland Waterways Association, with two vans spent a weekend working on the canal restoration at both Darnford Park and Summerhill.

Peter said: “The Summerhill team struck the formwork to the rear concrete towpath wall over the Cranebrook culvert, cleaned, oiled the timber shutters, placed the mesh wall reinforcement, re-erected the formwork and installed props to the opposite wall which forms the canal channel over the culvert. All in one day!

“The WRG team then got stuck into completing the timber edging and stone towpath on the Heritage Towpath Trail between the culvert and the M6Toll aqueduct. Not having an excavator to load stone into our six tonne dumper did not deter our hard working WRG guests, they just loaded the dumper by hand with shovels!

“And at Darnford Park the WRG Team took control of the LHCRT excavators and dumpers and set about forming the base of the central environmental mound alongside the A38. After a good deal of scrub bashing a start was made to forming the upper canal basin and the excavated material was moved by the dumpers to form the base to the central environmental mound along the noisy A38.”

While the corporate groups have been coming and going, the Trust’s own Green Team have been steadily laying the unkempt hawthorn hedge and interplanting native saplings along the kilometer-long Summerhills section.

Meanwhile, the work of the Trust’s regular volunteers on the Tamworth Road site mean that the day when Pound 27 is in water is coming closer.

The clay base is complete in the winding hole by the A38, thanks to the loan of a 13-tonne JCB from Chase Civil Engineering which was used to place and compact the puddling  clay.

Stop planks have been installed at the narrows and more clay has been laid along the base of the towpath wall, while Geomesh has been stitched into and soil placed to the off side concreted canal bank batter to enable plants to establish and wildlife to flourish along the canal margins

The final stage before rewatering is the installation of a penstock, a gate valve which will allow the control of water through the weir at a rate acceptable to the Environment Agency and into the adjacent Darnford Brook.


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